The first of the Burlington railroad’s famous Zephyr passenger trains made a stop in Beardstown on June 6, 1934. The streamlined, stainless steel diesel was in the midst of a 222 city, 31 state promotional tour at the time.
Less than two weeks earlier, on May 26th, the train set a speed record by traveling the 1,015 miles between Denver and Chicago in 13 hours and 5 minutes. After the historic run, the Zephyr was briefly on display at Chicago’s Century of Progress world’s fair.
The Zephyr arrived in Beardstown at 4:20 p.m., greeted by the Beardstown City Band and the release of 127 homing pigeons by the Beardstown Pigeon Club. Ramps were set up to allow people to tour the train.
Sixty policemen were on duty to help handle the well-behaved crowd. 3,476 people filed through the train before it departed, though several thousand disappointed rail fans did not have the chance.
Loren Stanley, manager of the Princess Theater, Fred I. Cline, and other Beardstown businessmen hired a Springfield cameraman to film the arrival of the Zephyr in Beardstown and the crowd in front of the C. B. & Q. Depot. The film was shown at the Princess on June 20th and 21st. I wonder what became of it?
Carloads of people parked along the road beside the railroad tracks between Beardstown and Arenzville caught a glimpse of the aerodynamic train as it left for St. Louis.
The Zephyr entered regular service Nov. 11, 1934, on a route between Kansas City, Missouri and Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska.
With more Zephyrs being added to the Burlington fleet, the original train was renamed the Pioneer Zephyr on the second anniversary of the Denver to Chicago run. On the 26th anniversary of that famous trip, May 26, 1960, the Pioneer Zephyr was taken out of service and donated to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, where it can be seen today.